Sunday, March 06, 2011

Pre-Cheltenham chit-chat

In brief...

Riverside Theatre misses the Ryanair - a hairline fracture of the pelvis has been diagnosed;

Earlier in the week Diamond Harry suffered an injury and misses the Gold Cup;

Connections of Starluck have decided to swerve the Arkle, prefering to go to Sandown on Friday and then on to Aintree;

Doncaster winner Montbazon misses the Festival bumper and heads to Aintree instead;

Newbury winner Fine Parchment has the Topham Chase as his target;

Coral, bet365 and Paddy Power now offer non-runner no bet on all Festival races;

Jason Maguire's ban has been reduced - he rides Peddlers Cross in the Champion Hurdle;

A stat from Paul Jones: in last year's Festival handicaps just nine of the 44 win/place positions were filled by horses starting at under 10/1;

Another Paul Jones stat: Of the last 12 Arkle winners to contest the Champion Chase the following year, 5 have won, 5 have finished second and two have taken third spot - Sizing Europe is 14/1 with bet365.

Cheltenham going is now reported as good to soft;

And with St Patrick's Day just around the corner, Heinz have launched HP Guinness Sauce - jolly tasty it is too!

Last night I spent an hour or so on the phone talking Cheltenham horses with a fellow racegoer. He was of the opinion that Willie Mullins' 2008 Neptune winner Fiveforthree offered decent each-way value in the World Hurdle - William Hill bet 16/1 this evening which looks tempting.

Ian King, Business Editor at The Times, writing in Saturday's paper... 'The Cheltenham Festival doesn't start until a week on Tuesday, but one could be forgiven for spotting jostling in the stalls yesterday at Aviva's results presentation.' Starting stalls? At the Cheltenham Festival? Tut, tut.

Here's a (not-totally comprehensive) list of racing people mentioned in the The Times' Sport Power 100 - a countdown of sport's most influential people; last year's position is shown in brackets.

21 (7) Sir Alex Ferguson, owner
24 (15) Sheikh Mohammed, Godolphin owner
31 (new) David and Simon Reuben, Northern Racing owners
36 (95) Rio Ferdinand, owner
42 (76) Ralph Topping, William Hill chief executive
43 (64) Harry Rednapp, owner
54 (new) Simon Bazalgette, Jockey Club Racecourses chief executive
68 (70) Nic Coward, Chief executive, BHA
87 (77) Edward Wray and Andrew Black, co-founders, Betfair.

Finally, looking a little further ahead, as part of the Racing For Change initiative 25 racecourses are offering free admission to their fixtures in April. That has to be worth a look, doesn't it? The final free meeting takes place at Doncaster on Friday 29th April, the day of the Royal Wedding; Alan Lee reports in Saturday's Times that all the free tickets for that particular meeting are likely to have been snapped up by the end of this week (and it's not hard to see why...) If you've missed the boat, don't worry - other meetings are scheduled at Leicester, Perth, Fontwell and Bangor-On-Dee (where a paddock ticket will set you back £17). That looks a small price to pay if it means you avoid all the media hullabaloo that surrounds any Royal Wedding - I'm off to order mine right now!

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